A COMMUNITY group is fighting to bring a cinema back to the heart of Fort William after more than a decade without one.

Marie Macpherson, chairperson of the Lochaber Cinema Group, said they registered as a charity last February after spotting vacant buildings in the town which would be ideal to turn into a local cinema.

The group said the old cinema building, which closed down in 2005, would have been too expensive to resurrect but they have since found two shop units joined together perfect for housing two cinema screens.

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Now they are in the process of applying for funding to buy the units through the Scottish Land Fund and other grants. The cinema project is expected to generate around 18 jobs.

Marie said: “We need to find the money to buy the units. We are doing that through the Scottish Land Fund. I have applied for a development grant and that’s the first stage. I should hear about that by the end of April and then we can start doing the public consultation on the project.”

Since Christmas, Marie has been running cinema screenings at other venues and schools with the help of a £1,500 grant and she plans to continue with the showings in local communities even when the Fort William cinema opens. She has also set up a kids club which has had an amazing response.

“We decided to go round schools showing screenings of the film Elf to 700 kids over five days. We had a bit of money left over and decided to do a couple of screenings of I Daniel Blake because no-one was showing locally. We did showings in our local food bank, one in Coul Community Centre and the cinema in Kinlochleven which already run.

“We set up a kids club and within the space of a month I had 330 memberships which is the equivalent of 500 adults and over 650 kids. It helps build our audience figures.”